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Illustrated tornado from the book The Wizard of Oz
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Common Tornado Myths

Has someone ever told you to open your windows during a tornado? Or has someone ever told you that you don't have to worry about tornadoes because the place where you live is protected? These are two of the most common myths about tornadoes and neither of them are true.

Scientists once thought houses exploded when a tornado passed over because of the really low pressure in the tornado. They figured that the higher pressure in the house would knock down the walls trying to get out. So they said you should open your windows to equalize the pressure. It turns out that more damage can be done by opening the windows.

Some people thought that tornadoes couldn't cross mountains or rivers. This is true for small tornadoes, but the strong ones--the ones which cause the most destruction--can cross almost anything.

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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA